Healthy Living, Home Building trends

Even small homes need Heat Recovery Ventilation systems

A recent article in The Ottawa Citizen advised against installing an HRV in a small home – we disagree.

The author maintains that “The cost of losing precious living space to the HRV itself and to the air ducts is just too high given the benefits that an HRV offers in a small space like yours.” We disagree on a couple of counts:

In the first instance, every house built in Ontario since 2006, regardless of size, has required an HRV. It’s not an option, it’s a legal requirement!

In the second, the article’s author also maintains that “Opening a window or two a little and running exhaust fans more often and longer will also push stale air outdoors and bring fresh air in.”

We don’t understand why someone in even the smallest house would want to regularly naturally ventilate their home in the winter because it will cost more to continually heat the cold air that keeps being introduced. A big part of building tiny is to save money not to spend more.

Lunos HRV unitThere is, in fact, an HRV for every application.

The Lunos system is a 90% efficient heat recovery system designed for small spaces. Many passive homes use this system: http://www.lunoscanada.com/index.html

The Lunos HRV uses the wall cavity so no extra space is required in a utility room.

If you live in Ontario and are building a new home, you are required to have an HRV system. Make sure you get the right one for the size of your home.

 

 

EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Home Building trends, Solar Power

Ottawa Infill House Project

One of the projects currently underway with EkoBuilt is an infill home in central Ottawa. This house is being built to Code Plus standard and is currently being insulated; drywall to start this week.

EkoBuilt’s Code Plus framework designs to the projected building code standard of 2030 when it’s estimated that minimum exterior wall insulation will be R32 (currently R22), and roof insulation will be a minimum of R50 (currently R32).

The house also has a 10 kW solar array attached to the Ontario Micro fit program. Watch for more updates this winter.

 

EkoModel News, Passive House resources

Come on out to Passive House Days this weekend

International Passive House Days opens tomorrow, and the EkoBuilt Model Home will throw open its doors on all three days. Please join us and consider visiting other Passive Homes in the area!

What? International Passive House Days

When? Nov 10th – 12th, 2017

Find Homes Near You

northern elevation of the ottawa passive house

To search on participating homes in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, or wherever you live, use the Passive House Database.

The listing for the EkoModel Home, including its passive house credentials, can be found at listing 5081 on the Passive House Database.

Please come out and visit our four-bedroom, 2,509 sq ft passive house on any of the following days:

Fri, 10 Nov: 9-3pm
Sat, 11 Nov: 9-3pm
Sun, 12 Nov: 9-3pm

See complete house plans for the EkoBuilt Trillium passive house right here.

See all 13 of our Passive House plans here – we can modify any of these plans to best suit your needs!

EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Energy Efficiency, Passive House facts

International Passive House Days 2017

Passive House residents around the world open their doors Nov 10th – 12th, 2017. The EkoModel Home near Ottawa will open its doors after having been lived in for a year, so this is a great time to visit our project and check out others in the area.

Get first hand experience of the many advantages Passive Houses offer, and feel the supreme comfort of these super energy efficient homes.

Find Homes Near You

The EkoModel HomeTo search on participating homes in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, or wherever you live, use the Passive House Database.

The listing for the EkoModel Home, including its passive house credentials, can be found at listing 5081 on the Passive House Database.

Please come out and visit our four-bedroom, 2,509 sq ft passive house on any of the following days:

Fri, 10 Nov: 9-3pm
Sat, 11 Nov: 9-3pm
Sun, 12 Nov: 9-3pm

See complete house plans for the EkoBuilt Trillium passive house right here.

See all 13 of our Passive House plans here – we can modify any of these plans to best suit your needs!

Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design

Energy efficient home plans are essential

If you’re planning on building a new home, you’ve got a chance to get it right from day one. Low energy bills, a healthy and supremely comfortable living environment, great design – what’s not to love?

Energy efficient home plans are the key ingredient to an energy efficient home, along with energy efficient materials and building technologies, and – of course – a builder who understands how to make the most of all of these.

Energy efficient home plans from EkoBuiltWhy are they so important?

Home plans that have been developed by an experienced home builder over time will take into account myriad factors, including the best distances for work areas in a kitchen, ideal corridor and flow pathways, orientation of private spaces to public ones, relationships of the indoors to the outdoors, etc. But there is much more to a home than floorplans.

An energy efficient home plan will also take into account things like roof slope and style, overhangs, maximizing window size on south and west facing walls, etc.

Will you know an energy efficient plan when you see it?

Possibly not. Unless you know the right things to look for, you may not be able to pick out the best options. An energy efficient home builder will be able to guide you in selecting from the best plans, can work with you to further customize those base plans to best suit your needs, preferences and budget, and will know the appropriate building materials and systems required to realize the build properly. The right builder will stay abreast of the best home building technologies and approaches for reducing a home’s energy footprint.

Why EkoBuilt?

Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan

A child’s bedroom in the EkoBuilt model home. Although curtains have been added for light control, they aren’t needed for warmth. The Munster windows are incredibly well sealed and energy efficient.

After years of building custom and energy efficient homes for customers, the EkoBuilt team has years of experience in designing and building homes, and this experience has translated into the 13 energy efficient home plans from our Passive House line, as well as 8 tiny/coach house plans for secondary dwellings/rental properties and tiny home enthusiasts.

The 13 passive house plans that we’ve developed encompass both two-storey and bungalow styles, all boast low-slope roofs with large overhangs, and each one is designed to maximize the placement and size of south and west-facing windows.

These house plans also build on years spent accumulating knowledge of the best kinds of home floorplans to cater to different lifestyles and life phases. Some of our plans will be better suited to individuals, retired couples or those without children, while others are more clearly family/multi-resident homes.

All of the plans include an optional basement with lower-level access, and all can be paired with an energy efficient garage, as required.

Homes designed to take advantage of electricity – the fuel of the future

These homes are easily and cheaply run using an air to air source heat pump which can heat a home for less than $30/month (electricity) during the coldest months of winter. Really!

And, as noted above, we’re always delighted to work with clients to customize one of our plans to best suit their design preferences, budget and needs. We can help you think through how you live and how your home’s design can best support that.

Most importantly, we can help you end up with the most delightfully comfortable and healthy home, that is also the most energy efficient one possible to build currently.

Get in touch

Tell about your dreams and plans; we’ll help you choose the best energy efficient house plan and show you how to make it your reality.

Read more about the EkoModel Home, which demonstrates all of these principles.

Passive house materials and construction
Energy & Household Trends, Simply Sustainable

Don’t forget Green Energy Doors Open this weekend

The EkoBuilt Model Home will be open for public viewing on Saturday and Sunday this weekend from 9am to 5pm each day, as part of Green Energy Doors Open Ottawa ’17. We hope you’ll come out and visit our four-bedroom passive house just west of Ottawa. Just stepping into the house you’ll feel the difference.

The Eko Solar Engine - passive house infographic

Click to learn about the EkoBuilt solar engine

The EkoBuilt Passive House is our premier offering for home owners seeking the best investment, exceptionally low energy consumption, and comfort from a home that is also supremely healthy. We offer 13 designs, all of which can be customized to meet your specific needs and preferences.

Almost all of our conversations begin with the passive house and what it means for home owners. To aid these conversations and to support your research into the best home for you, we recently developed an illustration that shows the component parts of what we call the Eko Solar Engine.

Throwing our doors open this weekend offers a perfect opportunity to ‘see’ the solar engine in action and to ask questions. We look forward to meeting you!

Saturday, 30 Sept and Sunday, 1 October
9am – 5pm
96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, Ontario K7S 0E1

Quick Links

Full details for EkoBuilt’s participation can be found here on the GEDO website.

Review all participating sites and events associated with this weekend’s GEDO.

Green Energy Doors Open 2017

House with roof panels
Energy & Household Trends, Simply Sustainable

Going off grid

Inexpensive and Simple

When many of us hear the term ‘off-grid’ in terms of our homes, it’s easy to think it must be difficult or costly to get a off-grid, however it is actually very easy to implement and not terribly expensive. When viewed in line with typical utility bills, it simply makes sense.

A typical off-grid system might range from $20-$30k to purchase, which is a significant upfront investment for most of us, but seen over the duration of a mortgage, it would actually translate into a very manageable monthly payment, e.g. $170 / per month. This is actually more affordable than many typical monthly utility bills for homeowners.

All change…or at least, a significant shift

At this point in time, almost every off-grid project requires a generator, because the sun is not always shining and the wind is not always blowing, and the capacity for storing the energy generated by these sources in batteries simply hasn’t developed sufficiently.

The problem with conventional off-grid systems is that they require propane or gas, which are petroleum based fuels. As we all know, this represents a simply unsustainable energy supply. Which is why we turn to biofuel.

Why not use readily available bio-fuel?

We recommend using a generator that can burn vegetable oil or bio diesel.  These are the fuels of the future as they are non-petroleum based and renewable.

A European company, Gelec Energy, has a great selection of generators, including ones engineered for use with vegetable oil/biofuel.

With this technology, no one is reinventing the wheel; they are simply making use of existing diesel technology developed over 100 years ago. After all, deeply concerned about the pollution that accompanied the age in which he lived, Rudolph Diesel originally designed his engine so that it could run off peanut oil…

As a fuel, bio diesel is also reasonably affordable, costing as little as $.60 per litre, compared to much closer to a dollar per litre for gas at the pump.

What this looks like

In the summer period (mid-March to mid-October) an off-grid house is designed to run off solar PV panels and batteries. In the winter period (mid-October to mid-March) it’s engineered to run off a combination of solar PV, batteries, and the generator.

On average, a full-size family home will use 24 kWh per day in the warmer months, and 30 kWh per day in the cold season. The house can run directly off solar PV when the sun is shining, but here are the factors to consider for overcast days:

  • Battery storage is 15 kWh.
  • Batteries experience on average .5 charge cycles per day during the summer period and one charge cycle per day during the winter period.
  • Batteries cost $15,000 and are guaranteed for 3,000 charge cycles which equates to a battery lifetime of 12 years. This averages out to $1,250 per year.
  • Generator cost is $15,000; with limited run time it should last approximately 30 years, resulting in an annual cost of $625.
  • On average, the generator needs to produce 15 kWh per day during winter. The generator can do this with 1.5 L used vegetable oil or biodiesel: 1.5 L x 150 days = 225L x $0.60 per litre = $135/year.

Total annual costs

  • Cost for bio diesel approximately $0.60 per litre = $135 per year
  • Generator cost amortized over 30 years = $625 per year
  • 6 kW solar array and inverter $15,000 to last 50 years or more = $300 per year
  • Batteries amortized over 12 years = $1,250 per year

Total = $2,310 per year. We conservatively estimate that this is 50% less than what most full-size family homes cost to keep heated and cooled when connected to the grid.

Interested to know more?

We’re happy to answer questions about how to take your home off-grid, particularly if you’re building new and want to know the best decisions to make upfront to maximize energy saving potential. Give us a shout today.

Related reading:

Going Solar: the EkoModel Home
Your House Needs a Solar Engine, and We’ve Got It

 

EkoModel News

Save the Date: Green Energy Doors Open 2017

EkoBuilt will be taking part in Green Energy Doors Open ’17 this year (Sept 30/Oct 1), and we’ll be opening the doors of the EkoModel home.

This year the event will also include a one-day EV Exhibition on Aberdeen Square in Ottawa. They will showcase several electric vehicles, including a racing car.

Green Energy Doors Open 2017Green Energy Doors Open, is a province-wide, year-round communications campaign and showcase of individual, community, and commercial sustainable energy projects. It is organized and spearheaded by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. The initiative aims to showcase advancements in the sector, demonstrating that Ontario is already on the path to building a 100% clean, sustainable energy system.

Save the Date

EkoBuilt Demonstration Home
30 Sept – 1 Oct 2017
9am to 5pm
Full details >

Quick Links

Green Doors Energy Open 2017 – List of Host Sites

See you there!

Garden shed and garage organization videos
Healthy Living

Video tutorials for organizing your garden shed and garage

Heading into the long weekend that marks the end of summer, you may have more than just a bit of a last hurrah on your mind. If you’re staying closer to home, you may find that you’d like to tackle an outdoor job before also indulging in some fun and relaxation.

Ottawa’s weather forecast is looking a little iffy beyond Saturday, so for the remainder of the weekend, a quick project in the garage or your garden shed could be just the thing!

A little garden shed inspiration

Small space storage project for lawn mower and tools

Garage cleaning & storage ideas

Spring or fall, it doesn’t matter; it may be high time to purge, clean and get organized in your garage. Ignore the plug for the power washer here (though you may need to use one!), and instead notice the principles around a deep clean, and a cool beam system for storage containers.

A new life for your garage floor

Total garage storage – planning and makeover steps

Here’s to a great long weekend, and an organized start to the fall!

 

Photo by Taduuda on Unsplash

Ottawa tiny house community
Healthy Living

Calling All Citizens! Calling All Citizens!

If you’re not already in a community you will WANT to consider this and if you are in a suburban community you will REALLY WANT to consider this. If you are not in a community at all, you will APPRECIATE this…

As humans, we are naturally social creatures hard wired to engage with people in one form or another. With modern technology, this engagement is increasingly less than in the past. But we stand to gain so much when we come together.

Our vision of an EkoCommunity is a vibrant community that has the flexibility build in for as much, or as little, privacy as its members want, and where there is shared satisfaction in living in a supremely comfortable and healthy home.

There is an amazing side benefit to living in a shared community: it’s actually a much more economical way to live! With rising land costs, our cost-of-living (or the cost of our dreams of living on more land) has shot through the roof! With a shared community property, these costs are brought back down to ‘normal’. The cost of a commonly shared building is usually included.

Communities of the 21st-century should be communities that share a piece of land and are either net zero or self sustainable:

Net zero – a home that produces the same amount of energy as it uses (usually with solar panels);
Self sustainable – off grid with community owned energy production systems that are, of course, sources of renewable energy.

Living in a shared community, free of energy dependence (off-the-grid) and affordably, is surely a great way to go forward. The best part is, most cities and townships accept these types of communities with open arms, as long as the property is zoned residential, of course!

What is your vision of a designed community?

It does take a particular group of people to come together and decide on a property and a general style of home/buildings, but when people agree, great things happen!

We’re here to help if you can see the way to finding you group and making it happen. Add your name to our EkoCommunities list, and we can help connect you with like minded folks! We’ve also got the home technology and plans to help you see your vision through.